This version of a mock draft is called “Sit and Pick,” which is based on a combination of NFL club needs and roster analysis. For teams to just sit and pick is not the reality of the draft process as we know it, of course; however, the order that follows serves to help paint a true picture each organization’s priorities given its existing makeup and depth.
How will the 32 teams attack a very capable free-agent class? Will there be a big splash early? Conversely, will teams prefer to add key players and fill hot spots late, potentially influencing how they approach May’s festivities in New York City? Building the roster with youth, especially through the yearly NFL draft, is the key to maintaining a successful NFL franchise. Throughout my years in the front office, the ultimate road to consistent excellence boiled down to drafting, developing and resigning your youngsters.
The 2014 draft is loaded with talent. It may be the most talented draft class in the last 20 years, in fact, with stars-in-waiting across the board. The 102 total underclassmen, including 98 juniors and four red-shirt sophomores, will provide quality value throughout all rounds. Most of the seniors will hear their names called as the three-day event winds to a close.
Here is my first mock draft version.
1. Houston – Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
2. St. Louis – from Washington* Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
3. Jacksonville – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
4. Cleveland – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
5. Oakland – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
6. Atlanta – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
7. Tampa Bay – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
8. Minnesota – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
9. Buffalo – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
10. Detroit – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
11. Tennessee – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
12. NYG – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
13. St. Louis – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
14.. Chicago – Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
15. Pittsburgh – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
16. Dallas – Ra’shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
17. Baltimore – C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
18. NYJ – Marqise Lee, WR, Southern California
19. Miami – Zach Martin, OT, Notre Dame
20. Arizona – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
21. Green Bay – Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
22. Philadelphia – Calvin Pryor, DB, Louisville
23. Kansas City – Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
24. Cincinnati – Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
25. San Diego – Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
26. Cleveland from Indianapolis* – Ryan Shazier, CB, Ohio State
27. New Orleans – Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
28. Carolina – Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
29. New England – Louis Nix, NT, Notre Dame
30. San Francisco – Jammie Ward, DB, Northern Illinois
31. Denver – Stephon Tuitt, DT, Notre Dame
32. Seattle – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
I’ll detail all 32 teams’ specific needs next Monday, March 10.